The other night, as we were watching the latest incarnation of The Incredible Hulk, my daughter turned to me during two major fight scenes and said twice, “Why don’t they just step out of the way?”
They were, of course, the hapless soldiers dealing with the wrath of the Hulk and the Abomination.
Hulk smashed. Abomination did his reptile thing.
In both scenes, the gamma radiation misfits hurled large objects – fuel tanks and taxis – at soldiers who ran…
..straight in the other direction.
Leading to my daughter’s question of why they don’t simply step out of the way.
And, it’s a good question. Especially when it takes a half minute of screen time as the hurled weapons screech, crash and explode into fireballs behind the guys running in straight lines.
More than enough time for anyone with common sense to take a step to the side and get out of the way.
So why didn’t they?
For dramatic effect.
But if increasing tension pulls the viewer out of the story, you know you’ve got a problem.
When writing a fight scene, the job of the writer is to deliver the drama and action but never at the cost of losing the reader.
So while you may not need to be an expert in martial arts, at least, don’t throw common sense out the window.
So when putting together a fight scene, make the characters smart – they play with distances, they move their feet, and they are ready for the next enemy to come at them.
And assume that your readers are smart. So do your research, study how people fight hand-to-hand and with the weapons of your genre, and, above all else, respect the common sense of your readers.
Write for smart, not for stupid.